From Small Things, Big Things Grow

Event Recap by Nicole Langridge

Shimmer Event Image 1

"To see a world in a grain of sand." - William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

The simplistic beauty of seashells collected on the shore can be a wonderful source of inspiration. While they may seem hollow at first, it's up to us to fill them with our own stories.

On Saturday February 27, the Wollongong Art Gallery hosted a delightful afternoon of readings and presentations for the 'Empty Shells are Full of Stories' writing competition run by the South Coast Writers Centre. The SCWC initiated this competition as a response to the stunning Shimmer Shellwork exhibition currently displayed at the Gallery.

The exhibition provided insight into some of the earliest uses of shells and notions of shell-working traditions in Indigenous Australia to all those who visited the Gallery to enjoy the intricate and detailed artwork.

Aunty Barbara Nicholson delivered a powerful keynote speech about the importance of showcasing Aboriginal heritage, commenting that the exhibition itself reminded her of the vision of William Blake and the idea that an entire world may exist in the smallest of things. 

Shells are in fact an important cultural object in coastal Aboriginal populations. They are integral to journey rituals, in initiations and ceremonies, as adornments and as grave markings. 

Each of the 18 submissions received for the competition highlighted a very personal connection between the writer and shells, showing how just one object or idea can bring people from diverse backgrounds together.

Sandy Fung, who was Highly Commended in the poetry category, took to the podium to read her emotional poem, 'Warriors', inspired by her sister. Sandy, who writes her poetry in her native Chinese language, said she hopes to write better in English. 

Bibi Ioannou-Marsh, Highly Commended in the prose category, was the youngest participant in the competition, but her writing showed depth well beyond her years. 

The South Coast Writers Centre is proud to have run this competition in conjunction with such an incredible exhibition and allowed others to explore what shells meant to them.

Congratulations to Maris Depers, 1st place poetry winner; Lani Watt, 1st place prose winner; and Nicole McTaggart for being Highly Commended in poetry.

Written by SCWC

Posted on March 02, 2016